A day on The Lamb - IOSA FF-8


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The Lamb (here)

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Three days in May 2004
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If anyone is contemplating an expedition to Lamb Island (or The Lamb as the locals call it), FF-8 for IOSA, the following notes from the team which went there on the 13th of June, 1999 may be of some assistance. Jim - GM3BQA, who lives a few miles away in North Berwick, Christine - GM4YMM, and myself Ken - GM0AXY, decided that we would make an attempt to activate The Lamb more or less as soon as it was added to the Firth of Forth list of islands for the Islands of Scotland Award. We have previously activated other Firth of Forth islands i.e. Bass Rock, Fidra, Inchkeith, Inchcolm , Isle of May and Craigleith, so it was a natural to go for the ‘new’ one. After several false starts due to unsuitable WX and a heavy swell, we finally set off from North Berwick at 1015 UTC on Sunday, 13th of June.This is the story of what happened next:-

Jim looking towards The Lamb from the boat

Jim looking towards The Lamb from Benji’s lobsterboat as we start to approach the island. It is a scraggy volcanic plug sticking out of the North Sea just a mile or so from the harbour at North Berwick. The area is very tidal, up to some 15 -18 feet, and it is essential to time a landing to suit both the tide at the island as well as the harbour at North Berwick. The dreaded east coast swell is an additional hazard. The island is only maybe 100 metres long and 50 metres wide, and it is literally just rocks.

Close-up to The Lamb and our landing area

The eastern side of the island, seen from the boat looking north. As the overnight westerly winds had created quite a heavy swell on the western side of the island we were left with the prospect of landing on the rocks you see in this picture,..... and we did just that!

Landing on The Lamb

I managed to find time during the landing to take a picture. That is Christine on the left, trying to hold the boat steady against the swell, while Jim and Benji are getting all the gear ready to lift ashore; once I have finished with the photography!

We decided to set up the station as close to the landing site as possible for two compelling reasons:-
1. It would save time to get operational from time of landing and
2. It was almost impossible to move around on the island due to the very ragged and slippery rocks. It took several minutes to move from where we had the rigs to each end of the 2 x 20 mtr dipole; crawling on all fours sideways, like a crab. One end of the main dipole was on The Lamb itself and the other end on the easterly skerrie.

Jim operating on 6 mtrs; Bass Rock and Craigleith can be seen

Here Jim is setting up the 6 metre station. Behind him is the 33 foot telescopic fibreglas mast holding the centre of the 2 x 20 mtr dipole with 450 ohm ribbon feeder in the air. In the background is Craigleith and in the far distance you can see Bass Rock.

Christine operating a pile-up on 20 metres

Christine operating on 20 SSB: out in the open, the wind was thankfully calm, but the noise from the resident bird population consisting of mainly guillemots, razorbills and a few cormorants was a constant source of QRM; quite apart from the noise from the pile-up on the bands.We had with us 2 off Alinco DX-70 HF+6 rigs, 2 x sealed batteries which were float-charged using 2 x Honda petrol driven generators. The aerials were dipoles held aloft by telescopic fibreglas poles; a 25 footer and a 33 footer.A couple of 2 mtr hand-helds completed the set-up.

GM0AXY operating as it started to rain

Towards the mid-afternoon the rain started, and we had to use some plastic sheeting to protect the rig and the logbook (I was able to get my head in under the sheeting, as well) from the wet. We did have a tent as well as a fishing dome-shelter, with us, but where do you set up a tent on on those ragged and slippery rocks?

Next time;
-  bring scaffolding and build a platform; ..... like they do on Scarborough Reef!

While we were on The Lamb we agreed that it was the most uncomfortable expedition we had ever attempted. Although we had the equipment with us, there was just no place to set up a tent or any other sensible form of shelter. If anyone else is contemplating going to the Lamb to operate, take our advice and bring some good strong cushions with you! You have been warned! The Craigleith was tricky to land on, but child’s play compared to The Lamb.

Page updated 5th July 2010
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